Posted on April 20, 2023

Christian Inmates Are Planning Legal Action Against the Prison Service for Failing to Protect Them From Violent Islamist Gangs

Chris Pollard, Daily Mail, April 15, 2023

A group of 25 Christian inmates are planning legal action against the Prison Service for failing to protect them from violent Islamist gangs.

Lawyers for the prisoners say wardens have allowed the groups to take control because they fear being accused of racism.

The gangs offer ‘protection’ to those who convert to Islam and punish those who refuse, even threatening family members on the outside.

Wardens have moved Christian inmates to solitary confinement for their own protection rather than dealing with the problem, it is claimed.

Last night, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith called on prison governors to stamp out the gangs, as a group of barristers plan a class-action legal challenge to force them into action. Several Government reports have identified the gangs as a growing menace, with one warning last year that some were running Sharia courts and dishing out punishments such as floggings.

Criminal barrister Tony Wyatt has clients serving entire sentences in ‘the block’ – an isolation wing usually reserved for dangerous prisoners – as they refused to convert to Islam.

Mr Wyatt said: ‘We have reached a point where these so-called Islamic gangs seem to run our prisons. This problem has been left to fester and grow for 20 years. There is now no conceivable fix which does not include a fundamental overhaul of the prison system. For years, misguided political correctness made wardens hesitant to call out what was happening, but now it’s too late. These groups are now so big that there just aren’t enough prison staff to take them on.

‘Successive governments have effectively surrendered our prisons to an organised crime group. The fear of identifying these gangs as Muslim stems from a fear of what the outraged response will be, as no one wants to be accused of racism.

‘These gangs are taking advantage of that. Everything they do, everything they stand for, goes against the Koran. They are an organised crime group and use Islam as a shield to protect themselves.’

Mr Wyatt said he is aware of dozens of cases where prisoners have been isolated for years in bare cells usually reserved for disruptive inmates.

One client, convicted drug offender Richard Caswell, has witnessed the rise of the gangs over the last 20 years. He said they became ’emboldened’ in the wake of 9/11 and started ‘throwing their weight around’.

Mr Wyatt and colleagues are now planning to launch a class-action judicial review on behalf of at least 25 Christian prisoners being held in isolation for their own protection.

Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘Justice must be delivered. We cannot have a perversion of justice, no matter who the group is or what their beliefs are. The prisons should be run by the prison governor and the staff. There should be no subsets or organisations capable of bullying and threatening their way into running things. The authorities must take action immediately, without fear or favour.’

It’s estimated that more than a third of prisoners in London jails now identify as Muslim, up from 27 per cent in 2014. Nationally, nearly one in five prisoners (18 per cent) identify as Muslim, while they make up just six per cent of the UK’s population.

In a report on prisons last year, Jonathan Hall KC told the Government that Islamist gangs would undermine wardens by throwing around claims of racism.

He said they would make ‘insincere allegations of racism and Islamophobia… to delegitimise staff authority’ and ‘intimidate staff when their behaviour is challenged’.

Mr Hall wrote: ‘For the last decade and a half, groups of prisoners have adopted an anti-State Islamist stance that condones or encourages violence towards non-Muslim prisoners, prison officers and the general public. There is evidence of some highly structured Islamist gangs operating within the prison estate.’

A 2019 Ministry of Justice report into prison gangs found the biggest one was composed of Muslim inmates ‘operating as a gang under the guise of religion’.

The report also said it caused ‘a significant management issue at each establishment’ and that violence, bullying and intimidation were all ‘prevalent’ within the gang.

The Prison Service said: ‘Staff act swiftly to clamp down on intimidating or threatening behaviour regardless of cultural or religious sensitivities…Prisoners may be moved wings for many reasons including for their own protection or if they are a risk to others.’